Encyclopedia of Entomology

2008 Edition
| Editors: John L. Capinera


  • James A. Danoff-Burg
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6359-6_4764

One of several types of social insect symbionts, myrmecophiles are animals that live with ants for at least part of their life cycle. Other similar symbionts are termitophiles (guests of termites), melittophiles (guests of bees) and sphecophiles (guests of wasps). Of these, myrmecophiles and termitophiles are the most abundant, species-rich and morphologically diverse.

All of these social insect symbionts are thought to be nest parasites. Many previous studies have demonstrated that the guests take food from the hosts and may even prey upon them. Outstanding cases, such as more specialized species, that pass the entirety of their life cycle in the nest, may best illustrate why “nest parasite” is the most commonly cited role of social insect symbionts. Throughout their lifespan, these myrmecophiles receive regurgitations from nurse ants tending the ant larvae, and in the process, drain the resources that would have otherwise gone to the host ant larvae. The larval myrmecophile also...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • James A. Danoff-Burg
    • 1
  1. 1.Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA